Can Googling 'Child Porn' & Other Weird Internet Searches Get You Arrested?

Tech Talk 45

computerI have a confession to make: Sometimes I wonder if my Internet activities could get me arrested. I can clearly imagine a loud pounding at the door -- bang, bang!, And then a man's booming voice, yelling, "Open up, Ma'am!" Err, whaaa -- ? So I pad to the door in my jammies and standing there are six big men sternly holding up FBI badges. "What did I do, officers?" I gasp. (Quickly trying to prettify myself.) And to my horror, they answer, "You did a Google search for kiddie porn!" Oh noooo. Let me explain myself.

You see, as a journalist slash blogger, I'm on the Internet all day and often into the night. I'm looking for interesting and often bizarre stories I can write about. Like today, I noticed a story about how legislators in New York are trying to close the loophole that allows looking at kiddie porn to be legal while downloading it is illegal. I thought maybe I could write about that. So I did a search on "kiddie porn." And then I sincerely wondered what watchlist I'd just been entered into.

A few weeks ago, there was a blog post about a woman who saw her young son innocently lying his head on his female friend's body. She wondered if this was "too close for comfort." Thinking about some of the "doctor" games I played when I was little, I mulled writing a story on child sexuality. So I Googled, "Are kids sexual?" Then, I waited for the feds to bang on my door.

This isn't so paranoid. The feds DO monitor certain terms on social media sites. No brainer words like "terrorism" and "attack" could get you monitored, but so can innocent-sounding terms like "cloud" and "pork." (By the way, in order to find that article, I did a search on "feds watch terrorism" -- yikes!)

Legislators are now trying to figure out exactly what the laws on viewing kiddie porn should be. While it seems obvious to flat-out arrest anyone who looks at kiddie porn for even a split second, what about someone who does it by accident? Think that can't happen? Think again.

Once, while at work, I was clicking around into a million different sites, and lord only knows how it happened, but I was suddenly in what appeared to be some kind of animal porn site. I didn't even know these things existed! I quickly clicked back out but sat waiting in terror to be called up by my IT department.

Let's face it, the Internet is filled with all kinds of gross stuff we'd rather not know about. But if we don't know about it, we can't STOP it. Maybe there needs to be rules about who, how, why and where people can view illegal activities on the Internet, but I don't think it can be a case of zero tolerance.

As for Internet searches, I've done some weird ones, all in the name of my job, I swear. And I plan on using this article as my defense if the feds come a knockin'!

Do you ever do weird Internet searches?


Image via Kodomut/Flickr

computer, google, porn


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dirti... dirtiekittie

i treat google like my personal dictionary. i hear slang on the street i don't recognize? google it. some new recipe, or what new movie to watch, and yeah, maybe some less-than-savory searches too. i've wondered about it myself, would any of those searches alert anyone?

i remember i was once reading an article about some book that had homeland security in a complete and total uproar. apparently, just buying this book or checking it out at the library supposedly automatically put you on their watchlist. of course, none of the articles ever really SAID what the article was about, so i looked it up on amazon. and i read the first of the chapter they offer in previews. and then i sat and waited for homeland security to come grill me and cart me off to secret interrogations. what i learned was A) the book was crap and totally speculative (so making a big deal out of nothing, as our gov't will sometimes do) and B) no matter how secure i feel, i still wait for a knock at my door. uh oh! lol

dirti... dirtiekittie

*ever said what the book was about - sorry 'bout that.

Stacey. Stacey.

I think its the Anarchists Cookbook Dirtiekittie is referring to.



Maevelyn Maevelyn

This is exactly what keeps me from trying to find an instructional video for massaging your own perenium. God only knows what would pop up. 

kkey75 kkey75

I work for a police department and one day at work I was trying to get on a police website to look up some training information. They site had been hacked and HUNDREDS of porn pics started popping up. And the kicker? The chief of police was standing right behind me laughing as I furiously tried to get the off my screen. Ended up having to unplug the stupid computer to make it stop. Lol

RanaA... RanaAurora

Never Google Santorum. It's just... not good.

nonmember avatar HS

You're not the only one! I'm always paranoid abt doing a search abt passports or some illegal drug. I'm always worried that someone I know is going to get murdered or something and they'll find that search on my computer and be like She did it she did research on this drug that was used in the crime lol. That's what happens when you watch 48 hour mystery or 20/20 too much lol. And god forbid should I take life insurance out on my son and then something happen to him. Eek!

nonmember avatar HS

Damn you know we'll have to do that now *sigh* lol!

racha... rachaelvalkyrie

There are just too many risque things out there (not to mention the illegal) that can be accidentally stumbled upon and land you in jail.  Unfortunately it comes down to case by case questioning and figuring out intentions on a lot of things.  Someone who regularly downloads or looks at nude/sexual photos will most likely end up downloading/looking at pics of someone underage at some point, whether they mean to or not.  And even realizing your mistake and  deleting those images immediately can land still land you in jail.  The justice system hasn't had a chance to catch up with the technology and that means that good people get locked up and bad people roam free sometimes.

Davina Belden

have by accident for sure, my husbands hobby is woodworking, so as a suprise I wanted to get some exotic woods for him. Warning do not google 'exotic wood' with youngsters around.

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